Monday, August 26, 2019

Yummy's Story. New for You? Not for me.

Did you see this editorial in yesterday's Chicago Tribune?   I created the graphic at the left so I could talk about it in this article. I shared it on Twitter with this Tweet (open to view).

It's the story of an 11-year-old Chicago boy murdered 25 years ago in August 1994.  While the story might be new to you, it is not new to me. 

I've been collecting news clips of stories like this for nearly 30 years in an effort to mobilize more consistent attention and resources to help prevent kids from becoming victims of poverty and inequality. 

So I looked in my files to see what I had. Below are just a few of a series of 1994 stories.

This was the front page of the Chicago SunTimes on September 2, 1994 as media started to try to build an understanding of why this happened.

This is the front page of the Chicago Tribune on August 25, 1994.  The image from this story was used in yesterday's editorial.

67 kids were slain in Chicago in 1994 according to a Chicago Tribune story from January 1, 1995.  I put that story into the graphic below to highlight where Yummy Sandifer was on the list and where in Chicago his killing took the Roseland area on the far South Side of Chicago.

I had created the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 and our goal was to help draw volunteers, donors and ideas to non-school tutor/mentor programs in Chicago, using a four-part strategy that you can see on this page. Step 1 was an information collection strategy, which included building a list of non-school tutor/mentor programs in Chicago. In 1994 we started trying to use maps to show this information and map-stories to try to draw attention to different areas following media stories. 

Below is a map created in August 1994 to highlight the Roseland area where this shooting took place.  Over the next 25 years our maps became more sophisticated yet the purpose remained the same.

If you look at the January 1, 1995 Chicago Tribune story shown above, you'll see at the right that they point to places where people could volunteer.  Unfortunately they did not point to the Tutor/Mentor Connection and the Directory that we had first published in May 1994 or the conference that we held that May.  (They did do a story in May 1994 about the conference, but did not tie these together). 

If you view this list you can see a long list of articles where local media did try to tell what the Tutor/Mentor Connection was trying to do. Unfortunately these were far fewer after 2001. We tried to overcome that with a growing use of the Internet.

While yesterday's Chicago Tribune editorial focused on the Yummy Sandifer story the Chicago SunTimes did a story showing changes of demographics in Chicago, caused by a growing number of college graduates moving into the city.  Below are the maps featured in this story, along with maps from a WBEZ story that I used in a "Don't Drive By Poverty. Get Involved." story.

I've been using maps in stories for 25 years, in my print newsletters, on my web sites, email newsletters and blog articles.  If you read the stories about kids in poor schools, kids in gangs, kids in poverty and kids killing each other, and look at maps showing where these are taking place, you begin to understand that there is a need for solutions in many parts of the city.

Here's another map-story that has driven my efforts. This is from 1994, showing more than 240,000 kids in poverty. If you look at the shaded areas they are pretty much the same areas as we're looking at in 2019. Yet, there are changes, too. 

What a map is intended to provoke are questions of "How do we reach all of these kids with great programs?" How do we help these programs stay connected to kids from the years they start school till they are adults with jobs able to raise their own kids free of poverty?  How do we change the funding systems that make long-term programs so difficult to operate?"

Below is just one of many graphics I've included in blog articles and newsletters. How can we do this better?  How do we bring leaders from every sector into this conversation and keep them involved for many years.  How do we build birth to work programs reaching kids in every poverty area? How do we collect and report data that shows what programs are operating, where they are and what they do, so we can know that we really are reaching kids in all places where they are needed.

This "how to do it better" conversation needs to be taking place in many sectors.

As you look at graphics like this, where I show maps and the "mentoring kids to careers" graphic, also look at concept maps like the one below.

Kids in every neighborhood need ALL of these supports - view map

For any number of reasons I've not had the magic formula for drawing leaders to this information and motivating them to use it.  Nor have I been able to attract consistent funding, or a significant benefactor who would champion the Tutor/Mentor Connection.

What I started 25  years ago has left many footprints that others could follow, but as we enter 2020 I don't have any resources to go beyond maintaining an information base and posting articles like this to build on stories I see in the media and try to stimulate more strategic thinking by more people.

In the graphic above where I show the SunTimes maps I also put a small graphic of a bridge. If you look at the maps you see colors representing rich and poor sections of Chicago.  Volunteer-based tutor, mentor and learning programs can be islands of hope and opportunity that serve as bridges that connect people from both backgrounds in mutually beneficial ways.

Such programs need to be identified, supported and multiplied so they are in every high poverty neighborhood.

If you want to help me keep writing these articles visit this page and make a contribution. 

Or, better yet, reach out and start a conversation. Hire me to be a consultant to share these ideas with you and your planning team.

Or help create a Tutor/Mentor Connection at one of Chicago's colleges, so student researchers can dig into my files and pull out more stories that might motivate people to do what has not been done in the past 30 years: 

Build a system of school and community support that really does reach kids and families in every poverty neighborhood.

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